This article was written by our good friend Devin Bustin. Devin is a talented songwriter and fronts the musical group Asher Lev, his music soothes ears and captures hearts.
My name is Asher Lev. Actually that ºs my band ºs name, stolen from this novel called My Name Is Asher Lev. I write songs and play concerts. Once every few years, I release an album of songs I ºve shaped and re-shaped in my studio, that I ºve trashed and resurrected, obsessed over and grown to hate–that I believe merit people ºs ear time.
And I make frappuccinos. Hard. I double-blend. The city of Wheaton, Illinois owes three pounds of fat per capita to my strawberries and cream smoothies. I go to bed and get up before you can call this morning-breath, to steam milk, gallon after gallon, and I squeeze more bottles of mocha than Willie Wonka.
The Company ladles out the benefits: health-care, tuition reimbursement–a free pound of coffee every week–but I have a degree from the best art school in the country. I should be spooning caviar to my baby girl. The other day, I scratched my eye and my shift manager told me to go fish. I didn ºt have a clue what she meant.
‚ÄúGo fish? You want me to do dishes?‚Äù
‚ÄúNo. I want you to wash your hands. You touched your face.‚Äù
I felt like telling her to go fish. Well, not that exactly. Anyway, with four years of partner life behind me, here ºs my advice for survival behind the espresso bar:
1. If they treat you like it ºs high school, remember it ºs a high school job. Look closely at your paycheck. You made more in pizza delivery. Now blast 50 Cent ºs ‚ÄúI Get Money‚Äù through your car speakers. Wish you could afford better speakers.
2. Laugh about it. Yesterday around 5:15 a.m., a customer wiped toothpaste from the corners of her mouth and asked what was in a carmel macchiato. My store manager said, ‚ÄúIt ºs just like any other latte, except the sots shit on top of the foam.‚Äù I turned to the coffee grinder and laughed myself awake.
3. Use the time to get after what you really want. If I traipse to work at 4 am, I can pack a whole day of work in before afternoon arrives. The afternoon yawns wide with practice time, studio time, and, uh, nap time.
4. Tell yourself that service feeds the soul. Manning the helm of the espresso machine while bleary-eyed yuppies await my concoctions, I tell myself I ºm doing something for them, that this is going to make their morning better. I ºm playing them a song, kind of. I ºm throwing something together over five minutes that makes their next five minutes better. Maybe even the five minutes after that. Music works best when I approach it like a gift to those around me. The day job does, too.
They play this song in there sometimes. It ºs called ‚ÄúEverything is Free,‚Äù and it ºs by Gillian Welch. She ºs a songwriter I love, one we named our daughter after. Gillian sings about how hard she ºll work to keep the music close, even when the stuff doesn ºt bring in any scrill. She sings, ‚ÄúWe ºre gonna do it anyway / Even if it doesn ºt pay.‚Äù The straight job earns the strum job. I ºll make the trade.
*You can check out the music of Asher Lev at: www.asher-lev.com